Hagrid’s Tale

chapter twenty of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The trio visits Hagrid, who reveals that he’s just returned from seeking out giants in the mountains with Madame Maxime (and rather unsuccessfully, at that). As he finishes his story, though, a very suspicious Umbridge stops by, and as they head back to the castle, Harry, Ron, and Hermione worry about Hagrid’s future as a teacher.

Invisible, by Pen-umbra

They crept through the portrait hole and covered themselves hastily in the cloak – Ron had grown so much he now needed to crouch to prevent his feet showing.


by Amanda Grazini

The bolt was drawn back, the door creaked open, and Hagrid’s head appeared in the gap.


Giant Shadows, by Gnatkip

Hagrid paused for a long draft of tea…. “Found ’em… Went over a ridge one nigh’ an’ there they was, spread ou’ underneath us. Little fires burnin’ below an’ huge shadows… It was like watchin’ bits o’ the mountain movin’.”

(by Gnatkip)


Hagrid's Tale, by Leela Starsky

“Er – I don’ want ter be rude,” said Hagrid, staring at her, “but who the ruddy hell are you?”
“My name is Dolores Umbridge.”


about the chapter


I think my favorite mystery from this chapter is a rather mundane one that popped into my head when Hagrid said he’d given the Gurg a gift of Gubraithian Fire. Which is, if he and Madame Maxime had to travel for a month to get to the giants – and Dumbledore had to enchant the everlasting fire himself – how the heck did they transport the thing to the mountains? Maybe it didn’t occur to them that the reason they were being followed was the torch they were carrying with them, Olympic-style? ;)

Some Things You May Not Have Noticed

It’s clear from Hagrid’s descriptions that, interestingly, neither he nor Madame Maxime seemed to know much about how to approach giants. All of the rules they followed – bring gifts, only watch the Gurg, come back several times – were ones that Dumbledore laid out for them. On the one hand, you would think that Hagrid or Madame Maxime might know a few of these tricks, given that both are descended from giants themselves. But far more interesting is the fact that Dumbledore does know all of these rules. This won’t be the last time we see his respect for non-human creatures, but it does make me wonder where he learned it all. His life story must be incredible.

Speaking of Madame Maxime, we never really get her story, except for a couple of snippets during Goblet of Fire where Dumbledore essentially says he trusts her as much as he does Hagrid (and then recruits her to do work for the Order). While we don’t know his reasons for trusting her, though, it seems he is more than right to do so:

“Macnair an’ the other one were sneakin’ round the mountains lookin’ fer us. I was hard put to stop Olympe jumpin’ out at ’em,” said Hagrid, the corners of his mouth lifting his wild beard, “she was rarin’ ter attack ’em… she’s somethin’ when she’s roused, Olympe… fiery, yeh know… ‘spect it’s the French in her.”

Whatever her background and whatever her reason, it’s clear that Olympe Maxime is very, very much on Dumbledore’s side.

The Wizarding World

It’s funny that Hagrid and Maxime seem to have traveled through wizarding villages en route to the giants – after all, they had run-ins with trolls and a vampire. The magical world is so small that this doesn’t exactly strike me as the best way to avoid detection (remember that all of Britain only seems to have three wizarding pubs). Wouldn’t it be much easier to avoid pursuit travelling through Muggle villages instead, where there are a lot more places to hide and a much lower chance that someone will spot them who knows the Ministry folks? On the other hand, this is Hagrid and Madame Maxime we’re talking about – they do tend to, er, stick out a bit. And as the magical world has a far wider variety of people, perhaps they really are harder to track when hiding there. Still, I wonder.

41 Responses to “Hagrid’s Tale”

  1. As weird and random as it is, I’d just like to know how a giant-human couple ever happened. They’re basically 2 different species with 2 different cultures.

  2. I’m afraid it’s not the species (both carbon-based life forms with terrestrial, if magical, DNA) or the culture that bothers me: it’s the logistics. Let’s just say that a giant-human couple would be 99.999% certain to be male human, female giant. But even then …

    Plus, and more respectably, where and how would they meet? Could it be that a female giant with higher personal standards than most male giants would be able to use a love charm which would make her look sufficiently human, for a while at least? (It’s never been clear to me how or why Tom Riddle suddenly understood that he’d been tricked: did Merope’s concentration slip? Did she feel overconfident? Was she just tired of living a lie? Or do spells tend to have time limits built in? Harry’s protection needs to be renewed while he’s under-age … Merope must have been, potentially at least, a very powerful witch considering what her son was able to achieve. And also very flawed.)

  3. I believe someone (Dumbledore? Rowling?) said that Merope stopped making the potion at some point because she convinced herself that Tom Riddle (Sr.) was actually in love with her.

    And regarding humans and giants meeting, I imagine there would just be a classified ad in the Daily Prophet: “RLVG (really large violent giantess) seeks BOFWWBIAI (brave or foolish wizard with big ideas and imagination) for potion-brewing, tree-up-rooting, and long walks on the beach. Smoking optional.”

    The could be some Witch/Giant relationships too. The minotaur’s mother was human; the father was a bull. Just saying…

  4. Josie, you said that it’s weird to travel trough the wizard-towns. However, you also mention that Dumbledore’s lifestory must be so great. Perhaps we can combine these two facts. Perhaps Hagrid and Maxime could hide (or try to) at friends of Dumbledore in some of the towns. If he knows so much about giants, you would expect him to have been on that route before….
    Ow, and about the fire: what if you can travel with it, like Hermione travels with blue fire in a bottle or something in the second book, I think
    (Nice comment on the olympic fire though! It does indeed look a bit like that…)

  5. Deborah, I have wondered the logistics of that coupling myself! The only way I can explain it to myself is that magic MUST have been involved, maybe to make Hagrid’s mom smaller while they were courting? Maybe she herself was not as large as other giants-even though it sounds as if she were full grown, perhaps she was still on the smaller side. I’ve also wondered if maybe Hagrid’s dad was larger than average-but then JKR goes and says that Hagrid can put him on the dresser when he was very young. So the only way it makes any sense to me how humans and giants can have children is if magic is involved. I’d love to hear any other theories!

    BTW-I am so addicted to this site. I love the art and the theories, and it’s just wonderful. Great job, Josie!

  6. Nice artwork. Not much, but the essential scenes are there and beautiful.

    I was wondering the same about Hagrid and Madame Maxime transporting the fire.

    Maybe the reason for them running into magical creatures is simply that they know they exist and what they look like. Maybe they did travel through the Muggle world and Muggles just don’t realize those creatures are all around them.

    All in all I have always found this chapter too long. This might have been a good opportunity to edit the book into a shorter version.

    Also: When Hagrid talks about how there used to be many tribes of Giants who are now almost extinct and they were forced to move away and stick together for their own protection, was anyone else reminded of Native Americans?

  7. Is it possible that the reason Tom Riddle(Jr) is unable to love is because he was concieved through false love and then his mother didn’t love him enough to live for him? Dumbledore tells us several times that love is a very powerful magic, is it possible that in these circumstances it can actually affect the child and create someone like Voldemort? Its just a theory I have though I have no idea if it makes any sense or is even possible.

    Yeah the whole giantess/wizard thing always bothered me too. I wonder if anyone was ever insensitive enough to ask Hagrid that question lol, actually that sounds like something Ron would ask.
    Ron: “Hagrid, just how did your mum and dad … you know … do It?”
    Hagrid: ” … “

  8. Irene, in reference to your question about Riddle’s inability to love – Rowling has said that while the loveless union wasn’t the reason he couldn’t love himself, per se, it was intentionally symbolic. Because ultimately, if Merope had lived, she would have loved her son, and that would have changed things.

    On a separate note, thanks to everyone for keeping the wizard/giantess questions, er, non-technical. ;)

  9. It comes as no surprise to me that Hagrid doesn’t know much about interacting with Giants. His mother left when he was quite young, so how would he have learned about Giant culture?

  10. I pictured the Gubraithian Fire being kept in a box with an Anti-Burning Charm or something. :-) And I always kind of thought Mr. Hagrid and Fridwulfa as having a Donkey-Dragon relationship in Shrek. lol Fridwulfa initially fell in love with Hagrid’s dad and wanted to get married, and Hagrid’s dad eventually had feelings back. We know he loved her and that it probably wasn’t a forced marriage because Hagrid says his dad was “broken hearted after me mum left”. Also, I wonder if Hagrid got his monster fascination from his father? Maybe that was his initial attraction to Fridwulfa and then the love grew from there?

  11. It doesn’t sound logical, but I remember the “bad engorgement charm” comment from GoF and figured that Mr. Hagrid used one (temporarily, of course). But I like a lot of the other suggestions that have come up.

    And, yeah, I pictured the G. fire on a torch and that would certainly act as a beacon for anyone showing, hee hee.

    And in response to Roonil’s comment–do you think Anti-Burning charms would be so easy to do (obviously Dumbledore is an extraordinary wizard, but we’ll ignore him for a moment) or that there are door-to-door salesmen/insurance folk that go around selling their talents?

  12. I probably shouldn’t have started the wizard/giant thing. I didn’t want to say anything too… um… ‘technical’, but it’s a valid question, isn’t it?

    Irene, maybe Ron did say that sometime when Harry wasn’t there! He seems the type that would ask. As for Riddle’s inability to love, I’ve always thought it was implied that it was partially because he was born of a nonloving relationship. I’d also that was harsh to say, because that would be implying that children of divorced parents or rape victims wouldn’t be able to love, which isn’t true. Evidently, I have been proved wrong, though. :)

  13. I think JKR has made it clear that, in her world, the inability to love is a matter of choice. It is not genetic (both his parents had some capacity to love, and the loveless union is literary symbolism, not amcause of heredity). It is not ultimately environmental. Tom Riddle was love-deprived, but no more so than the other children at the orphanage (or even Harry Potter himself). It is implied that the other children at the orphanage did not choose to become evil. The major factor was young Tom Riddle’s own choice.

  14. I was so disappointed when Maxime doesn’t show up in the Battle of Hogwarts – in OotP and HBP Jo kept slipping Maxime in, and then in DH it’s like never mind! As for Hagrid, I’m afraid I just don’t like him much, because he’s just completely oblivious to the safety and feelings of those around him. I don’t think I ever forgave him for sending Harry and Ron to the acromantulas.

  15. I agree about Hagrid and his insensitivity. I’ve never liked him much; but he does move the plot along, albeit by risking other peoples lives! I love Pen-umbra’s pictures and how it shows the invisibility cloak around HRH.

  16. Hpboy13, I also missed Madame Maxime in DH. The list of characters who appear in the other books but not in DH is a very short one – I thought it was great the way Jo managed to bring almost all her characters back onto the stage for the finale.

  17. I like Hagrid! :-)

  18. I can forgive him the acromantulas. But at some point when I was rereading the first book, it dawned on me all at once that he gave 11 year old Dudley a pig’s tale because his father was being a prat. It’s made me rethink Hagrid quite a bit.

    Hagrid, like a few other characters, seems to be perpetually stuck in childhood sometimes. He doesn’t think things through, he has meltdowns when he makes mistakes, and he overindulges in things that lead him in trouble.

    I don’t dislike him, necessarily, but I don’t think of him as a great guy either. He’s the kind of friend you sometimes wish you could leave in trouble just so he’d learn, but you know he never will and if you don’t help him he’ll only drag you down with him by accident.

  19. Toby – I thought he gave Dudley a pig’s tail because Dudley was being so greedy. I agree with you entirely, though, on Hagrid having never reached a complete state of maturity. I think that’s why he has such a hard time seeing things from others’ points of view. His saving grace, for me, is that he’d never intentionally harm a single hair on his friends’ heads, and does care a lot about how Harry, Ron, and Hermione behave toward each other. While Sirius might give into pettiness, Hagrid just doesn’t have it in him to hold a grudge against a friend.

  20. Inky Squirrel, I think you’re getting confused with the movie – in the movie Dudley is eating the birthday cake, but he doesn’t do that in the book. In the book Hagrid goes for Dudley when Vernon insults Dumbledore – “NEVER INSULT DUMBLEDORE IN FRONT OF ME!” and shoots the spell at Dudley.

  21. Gah, I probably was. Thanks for setting me straight. ;)

  22. Hagrid did get kicked out of Hogwarts in his third year. So he did miss out on some parts of growing up, which, like Sirius, would keep him in a bit of a perpetual childhood.

  23. Yeah, I think part of it was getting kicked out of school and I’d bet some of it was losing his parents at such a young age. Considering how much he guides the trio in matters of how-to-treat-your-friends, I wonder how he was with the marauders?

  24. Toby, I don’t think Hagrid really knew the Marauders the way he knows Harry. Remember that the inside of his hut wasn’t on the Marauder’s Map – thus why Wormtail was able to successfully hide there when he faked his own death as Scabbers. Plus he wouldn’t have had a reason to get to know them the way he did with Harry, picking him up on day one.

    He would have known James and Lily from being in the Order, but his comment that they were two of the nicest people you could ever find also leads me to suspect he didn’t know James very well when he was in school (don’t think you really could have called him that from what we see of him as a kid).

  25. @Josie

    Sorry this is late, I don’t get to respond here as often as I’d like. I thought I remembered Harry guessing that the marauders left Hagrid’s hut blank because they wanted to give him privacy–but that may also be something I remember from some fan fiction. However, I could see how that might also be Harry’s perception and not necessarily the truth.

    He probably wasn’t as close with the marauders as he was with the trio, but I wouldn’t say he didn’t know them either. I think Hagrid might display selective morals sometimes, like, “if you pick on a bad person it’s not really so bad”, and therefore wouldn’t think so much about James harassing Snape.

  26. Toby, what you’re remembering is from fan fiction – it’s not in the books. But my theory is equally a guess; it’s just never stated.

    I think to me the biggest clue that Hagrid wasn’t close with James is the fact that he never once mentions he was, never tells Harry “I remember yer dad sittin’ in that chair,” anything like that. Wouldn’t it have come up eventually? And also, what reason would he have had to get to know James? He knows Harry because Harry’s an orphan and Dumbledore asks Hagrid to help him out. But Hagrid didn’t seem to have any other student ‘friends’ in the eleven years around Harry (six above and five beneath), so it seems pretty unlikely to me he would have just *happened* to befriend the Marauders.

  27. Your comment, Josie, makes me wonder just how lonely Hagrid’s life must have been before the trio came along, and then, of course, when they neglected to visit him. While he was obviously a fixture at the school, he never demanded as much respect as other adults, even Filch, for the fact he never abused what little power he has as the Keeper of Keys and Grounds.
    On reflection, the way that JK came up with the name ‘Hagrid’, from it’s roots as meaning a bad night, leads me to think that the Hagrid we saw holed up in his hut, avoiding the world, was probably very much the one most people knew before Harry came to school. Of course, he would have been somewhat more friendly (from the way he entertains guests he obviously had the ability, even if he was slightly out of practice), but evidently he dealt with any issues he had from his expulsion, practical orphaning and his general inability to fit into the cookie-cutter wizard mould with alcohol.
    Maybe I’m looking to much into it, but Hagrid is himself as damaged as any other character, and his flaws are just as deep, even if they manifest in the form of monster-worship or some misplaced transfiguration.

  28. The Giant Wizard thing has always bugged me. Giants are (at the shortest) 20 feet tale. A human (at the tallest) is 7 feet tall. I assume the average giant is 23 feet and the average human male is 6 feet. So I wonder how the…logistics….work. Imagine courting a 2 story house.

  29. First, I think it’s hilarious that Hagrid blames Maxime’s inclination to attack the Death Eaters on the French in her, and not on, say, the GIANT in her. Rofl

    As to Hagrid not having any other friends among the students, I don’t think that’s quite true. We don’t see any on-screen, but that just means Harry doesn’t bump into them at Hagrid’s place. However, there must be some reason Ginny springs to his defense vs. Luna so quickly in OOTP Ch 11:

    “Did everyone see that Grubbly-Plank woman?” asked Ginny. “What’s she doing back here? Hagrid can’t have left, can he?”

    “I’ll be quite glad if he has,” said Luna. “He isn’t a very good teacher, is he?”

    “Yes, he is!” said Harry, Ron, and Ginny angrily.

  30. Hagrid may not have been “friends” with others like he was with HRH, but in OoP, Dumbledore tells Hagrid “I have shown you the hundreds of letters from the countless parents who have known you from their own days here telling me in no uncertain terms that if I sacked you, they would have something to say about it”. So Hagrid must have made some kind of positive impact on the students over the years.

  31. Darn, Gingercat beat me to it. :) I too was going to say that Hagrid must have been known well enough to be liked well enough that so many people would take the trouble of writing to defend him. He certainly knew James and Lily enough to cry over their deaths. He probably knew them a bit at Hogwarts but then got to know them better when they were all in the Order.

    I like Hagrid, despite his naivity towards monsters, but I think that at least partially comes from [i]needing[/i] to believe that ‘monsters’ aren’t really bad, just misunderstood.

    Actually, Josie, it might make more sense for Hagrid and Maxime to travel at least part of the way via wizard places, especially while they were being tailed. After all they were pretending to be going on holiday together, it would be suspicious if they avoided wizarding locations and stuck only to Muggle ones.

  32. I thought that Hagrid shot the spell at Dudley because he was trying to steal the cake, and he said that he wasn’t trying to give him a pig’s tail, he was trying to turn him into a pig. I’m sure that would have gone over well with the MOM and would have alerted them to the fact that he had his wand back in one piece too.

  33. Paul Menkens, Dudley didn’t try to steal the cake in the book – you’ve got yourself a case of movie contamination. ;) In the book, he shot the spell at Dudley because he was angry that Uncle Vernon called Dumbledore a crackpot. Even less justifiable, in a way.

  34. I finally looked up the pronunciation of Olympe, it’s “Oh-lomp”. Nothing like the way I was saying it…

  35. To be fair (and a bit nit-picky), Josie, Paul did get one part right. Hagrid does say that he meant to turn Dudley into a pig, but he was already too much of one that the only thing he was missing were the tail and ears x]

    And Roonil Wazlib, elizabethauthor already explained this a little, but I think Hagrid’s fascination with “monsters” is because he himself is half what most wizards would call “a monster”. He’s always saying that they’re “seriously misunderstood creatures” because that’s exactly what he is!

    I love Hagrid. Hagrid is Harry’s first real true friend in the world. When Hagrid is carrying Harry in the Forest toward the end of DH, I almost busted out crying, even knowing what was going on inside Harry’s head at the time. It was just such a sad moment, and I was really feeling for Hagrid there. Hagrid really has his heart in the right place, he just sometimes gets a little over-excited or fools himself into thinking “nothing bad could happen to these kids if I send them in to see Aragog” or what-have-you. He sincerely believes that all vicious Dark creatures are just misunderstood beings just like him. Hagrid has one of the biggest hearts in this entire series (and more than just literally ;]) and he’s the easiest for me to read with “the voice” of Robbie Coltrane, because come on, he’s such a brilliant Hagrid! I think Hagrid just gets a lot of bad rap thrown his way, and it just makes me love him even more. He’s not my favorite character, but he’s certainly up there. =D

  36. maybe hagrid cooks rock hard cakes as his teeth can chew tthrough them…just a thought.

  37. While the image of two half giants making their way through a darkened countryside hold a tree branch on fire and wondering how people are noticing them is quite funny, I always figured it was inside something for the journey. After all, the Goblet of Fire was inside a wooden casket, and was already flaming by the time it was shown.

    As for Hagrid’s father, I picture him with a similar attitude as his son, one of loving nature and all the various creatures. Not hard to imagine that, one evening, while walking through the hills or somewhere, he stumbled upon a giantess. Through in far too much firewhiskey (and most likely an engorgement charm) and in less than a year, you have a bouncing baby half-breed.

  38. Since Hagrid never returned to Hogwarts until now, causing the trio to worry, I wonder what it must have been like at Beauxbatons when Madame Maxime didn’t return for the start of term, or for that matter, at Durmstrang when karkaroff went on the run to evade Voldemort’s wrath.

  39. Another few thoughts about Hagrid:

    I believe in the books as soon as Hagrid is expelled he goes to apprentice to the current groundskeeper- if this is true how awkward would that be?? He’s already larger then his classmates, basically guilty (in the eyes of the students) of killing a girl at the school and now he is rather like the “hired help” around the school while his friends, peers and other students continue to be educated and graduate… I wonder if his friends visited him (assuming he had friends when he himself was at Hogwarts) after he’d been expelled… When you piece together that with the fact that he- by sheer size- is an outcast and lost his parents very young… I can easily see where his immaturity and lack of consideration come from.

    However, all posts taken into consideration I still love Hagrid. I always viewed him as a mix between the father figure Harry needed and a friend. He gives Harry the pictures of James and Lilly, he frequently chides Harry about how he treats his friends and for sneaking out of the castle after dark… He does have Harry’s interests in mind when it doesn’t come to monsters.

  40. One student I’m pretty sure was something like a friend for Hagrid was Charlie Weasley.

  41. Thank you Casey and reagan! Personally I love Hagrid I agree with most of the comments both of you made. His heart’s always in the right place and that just makes him even more awesome in my opinion. As for the monster issue, I think he really believes that most of them aren’t as dangerous to the students because they aren’t as dangerous to HIM. Hagrid’s size alone probably makes the creatures seem weaker and less dangerous than they really are.

    Slight Spoiler: And then there was that time he went on the run. I can’t remember which book it was. Was it this one? He took several stunners head on and they bounced right off.
    His body can take a lot more, so a lot of injuries that would be serious to the students are probably nothing more than scratches to him. When I look at it that way and add in the factors that the rest of you mentioned, I can really see why he believes the creatures aren’t that dangerous.

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